Top GOP lawmaker concerned self-insurance would result in major - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Top GOP lawmaker concerned self-insurance would result in major job losses for Dane County

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Sen. Scott Fitzgerald Sen. Scott Fitzgerald

MADISON (WKOW) -- A top state Republican says one of Governor Walker's budget proposals could lead to major job losses in Dane County.

Governor Walker wants to switch to a self-insurance system for state employees in 2018.

Under that system, the state would pay health insurance benefits directly for its roughly 250,000 employees and their family members.

Right now, the state allows employees to choose health insurance plans from 17 different private HMO's - many of which are based in the Madison area.

Gov. Walker estimates the switch would save the state $60 million dollars over the next two years.    

"46 states have some form of a self-insured plan and nearly half of the states are fully self-insured, including our neighbor Minnesota," said Gov. Walker.

But going back to last winter, Republican legislators have been saying Wisconsin is different because so many private insurance companies rely on the state for their business.

"This is off the top of my head, but about 80 percent of the employees of the HMOs live in Dane County," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told a crowd at a WisPolitics luncheon Thursday.

It would only take one company to administer the state's self-insurance plan, meaning those others would lose out.

And their employees?

"They'd lose their jobs. The HMO's would go away," said Sen. Fitzgerald. "And there's some pretty big health care corporations that would literally cease to exist eventually."

Senator Fitzgerald said the possibility of such job loss has him and and a lot of other Republican lawmakers wondering if the savings projected by the Governor would really be worth it.

"I think some people were thinking it was going to be double that, triple that," said Sen. Fitzgerald. "And now that you're not seeing those types of numbers - people are worried abut the job loss it could create across the state."

Senator Fitzgerald joins a number of Republican Assembly leaders in expressing similar concerns.

Governor Walker's office did not respond with a comment specific to Sen. Fitzgerald's concerns about job losses for private insurance companies, but did sent a statement to 27 News.

"Self-insurance would save the state at least $60 million while still providing its employees the same level of benefits," wrote Walker Spokesperson Tom Evenson. "Throughout Wisconsin, employers, health care systems, schools and others all use it to make insurance more affordable. Wisconsin should do the same to benefit taxpayers."

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